Infantry: April 16, 2004


The 2001-2 Winter fighting in Afghanistan left American commandos and Special Forces unhappy with their cold weather gear. There was a lot of running around (literally) in the mountains, and the bulky army-issue cold weather clothing was not doing the job. Many of the  troops knew this because some of them had civilian outdoor gear and were having a much better time of it than the guys who were just using the official military stuff. This difference between the latest outdoor clothing (using lots of high tech fabrics like Polartec and Goretex) and the government issue stuff was about two decades and maybe ten pounds of extra weight. The rumblings from the troops quickly reached the top and orders were given to test the best of the new stuff and put together a new cold weather protective combat uniform (PCU). The new PCU will use mostly COTS (commercial, off the shelf) gear that will be lighter, warmer and dryer (it will get rid of sweat more efficiently) than existing gear. It will also be more expensive. But this is no longer an excuse to say "no" to requests for superior equipment available on the civilian market. For men risking their lives while fighting in the Winter, a few hundred extra dollars per trooper for better clothing is seen as a wise investment (militarily and politically). A similar program is under way for the regular infantry, but the special operations troops get priority because they are spending more time sneaking around in snow capped mountains of Central Asia. 


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